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The Effects of Hormones on Athletic Performance

Dai Mang Ting, HK BioTek Nutritionist

Many studies have been pointed out that athletic performance is associated with the changes of hormones. Stable hormone levels can help improve muscle recovery, exercise performance, and prevent the occurrence of chronic disease. Conversely, hormonal imbalance may lead to adverse impacts, including chronic fatigue, sleep disturbance, lipid accumulation, muscle loss, metabolic and emotional problems. Therefore, hormones play an important role in our body which brings different impacts on our performance.


Hormones are chemicals produced by the endocrine system throughout the body that responsible for regulating the body’s metabolism, growth, and development, reproductive again, etc. When the endocrine system is disordered, the hormone levels will change abnormally (too high/too low), resulting in hormonal imbalance, which will cause various health problems and affect our sports performance.


Hormones are released to facilitate the type of adaptation to exercise during exercise. It assists in stimulating certain proteins for building muscle, synthesizing enzymes that improve glucose handling known as cellular respiration. Hormones are therefore not only an indicator of health, but also a key to endurance sports performance.


The main hormones involved in athletic performance include:

  • Testosterone

Testosterone is the main hormone involved in muscle interaction. High-intensity resistance training will increase the concentration of testosterone and promote the synthesis of skeletal muscle. Before exercising, a balanced nutritional diet is suggested that can increase androgen receptor in skeletal muscle. Additionally, testosterone can stimulate the release of growth hormone that can promote the protein synthesis and muscle mass.

  • Growth Hormone

Growth hormone is essential for the health and development of the body and bones. There are two main stimuli for GH release including well and adequate sleep and enough exercise. Regarding athletic performance, growth hormone can regulate the stress caused by resistance training.

  • Cortisol

Cortisol is a hormone secreted by the adrenal cortex to cope with stress. It promotes human metabolism, blood pressure regulation, stress management, and anti-inflammatory. However, irregular secretion will affect the body’s fat metabolism and accumulation. Overtraining, prolonged exposure to high stress, and poor diet may affect cortisol’s secretion pattern, causing elevated cortisol levels. Not only does this lower our immunity but disrupting the natural fluctuations in cortisol levels can also adversely affect other hormone systems.

  • Thyroxine (T4)

Thyroxine is involved in the regulation of metabolism as well as bone health. T4 is converted into the more active form T3 in cells. Overtraining and poor diet can lead to suppression of T3.


Hormone concentration is closely related to the athletic performance in all aspects. In order to maintain optimal hormone levels and athletic performance, a balanced diet, training, and rest are key element on it. Once the factors mentioned above are interfered, not only will sports performance be affected, but it will overload the body and cause sports injuries. Therefore, you may wish to understand your hormone levels before exercising. It helps you determine the purpose and intensity of your training to maximize your strength and improve athletic performance.


References:

  1. The Role of Hormones in Athletic Performance. Available from https://www.forthedge.co.uk/knowledge/the-role-of-hormones-in-athletic-performance/

  2. Sports Endocrinology – what does it have to do with performance? Available from https://blogs.bmj.com/bjsm/2017/04/28/sports-endocrinology-performance/#:~:text=Disruption%20of%20hormones%20secreted%20from,adverse%20health%20risks%20for%20athletes.

  3. 3個影響肌肥大的荷爾蒙:睪固酮、生長激素、IGF-1. Available from https://hypercore.com.tw/blogs/436

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